Old Mills Tesco expansion – ‘We must support town centre’ say local councillors

Local councillors representing Midsomer Norton have said they want reassurance that plans to expand a Tesco store on the outskirts of the town will not damage trade on the town’s High Street.

Tesco has submitted a Planning Application to expand its store between Midsomer Norton and Paulton from its current 38,000sq ft to 60,000sq ft, nearly doubling its size.

Conservative councillors in Midsomer Norton have welcomed the prospect of 87 new jobs at the store, but have raised concerns about the size of this expansion, the increased traffic this could cause on nearby roads, and its potential impact on trade in the town centre. Conservatives are urging Tesco to work with the local traders, the Town Council, and local Chamber of Commerce on its plans and to agree what new goods are likely to be sold in the store and how it can complement the town centre.

Conservatives have also pointed out that B&NES Council’s Core Strategy development blueprint puts an emphasis on town centre rejuvenation and job creation over edge-of-town retail development.

Cllr Barry Macrae (Cons, MSN North) commented:

“In these difficult economic times, all new job creation has to be a good thing. But creating new jobs at Tesco must not be at the expense of jobs in our town centre. We have concerns that the size of Tesco’s expansion, and particularly the possibility of the store selling more white goods and clothing, could damage our High Street traders. We are lucky in Midsomer Norton to still have a vibrant High Street and town centre, and we must ensure this is protected.”

Fellow B&NES Councillor Paul Myers (Cons, MSN Redfield) added:

“Tesco has previously said that it believes our High Street to be over-trading, an assertion many people will find ironic coming from the nation’s biggest retailer, which apparently takes £1 in every £7 spent in Britain. We would urge Tesco to work with the local business community to deliver the best outcome for our town, for existing traders and for local residents. In particular, we would not want the Tesco expansion to be at the expense of future plans for the town centre and other parts of Midsomer Norton. Most importantly, we would urge local residents to submit their views on the planning application, which they can do via the B&NES website until the 17th November.”